My baby is 5 weeks old now. I was absolutely determined to breastfeed, and am a great advocate of attachment parenting so had intended to carry on as long as possible, maybe even up to 2 years. I did loads of prep when I was pregnant and have to say that I (perhaps rather arrogantly) thought it would be easy - though you are led to believe it will be by all the literature. Anyway, so far we've had nothing but a nightmare and now i'm not sure if I'm left with many options but to quit which has had me in flods of tears all morning. Ludo never nursed very well from the beginning. He would latch no problem (doesn't seem the little man is very fussy - he doesn't care where the milk comes from and will take bottle, breast or cup with no complaints) but he had me in agony. By day 2 I was bleeding, scabbed and swollen. So we saw everyone we could - two different IBCLC, various breastfeeding clinics at the hospital and locally, midwives, LLL groups, to try and work it out. He had a posterior tongue tie which was corrected but made only a little difference, even with very dedicated suck training afterwards. It has be diagnosed that his hard palate is very flat and wide, and he has a very small mouth. I have very large areola but not very protruding nipples, so the conclusion seems to be that he may never really feed all that well, or certainly not until his mouth grows bigger, because no matter what position we use, or which tricks we use to try and get more in his mouth, he never really opens wide enough to stuff enough nipple in. Anyway, things marginally improved, in that he was now sometimes feeding with less pain and I could bear it, occasionally feeding very well, but other times, still just as bad as before. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to why some feeds were better than others, and have had his latch checked endlessly only to be told it seems to be ok. He is a sleepy baby it seems, and has a strange suck pattern, which I've also had looked at by a chiro and a cranial osteopath, but they have both said his head is pretty well aligned now after some adjustments. He doesn't fall asleep, but only swallows about every 10 times he sucks, even with compressions and tickling his ear and feet. A feed can take anywhere from an hour to two hours, and then he's hungry again afterwards. If he exclusively breast feeds he gets green poos, which only leaves the option to pump first so he gets the hindmilk, but when you have a crying baby wanting to be fed, who has 10 minutes to pump? I dont have any problems with low supply as I have been pumping and first finger, now bottle feeding him since the beginning and I have plenty of milk. He it growing very well and thriving on my milk. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I got really bad mastitis. I did everything I could to fix it without drugs - garlic, echinacea, vitamin c, grapefruit seed extract, massage, hot compresses... (I'm quite militant and even had a vaginal breech birth drug free as I didn't want him drugged from the beginning) but it got worse and worse and I got really ill so had to take antibiotics. The antibiotics made the little man so unwell that he was in awful stomach pain and throwing up the whole of every feed and losing weight, so was left with no option but to either stop them or give him formula. Under doctors supervision, as the fever had broken, I stopped the antibiotics after 10 days, even though the lump was still there. Then I got thrush which is still something of a problem. Then I got mastitis again and several bouts of blocked ducts in my other breast even though I was being diligent with either feeding or pumping, but managed to control it with natural remedies. And now I've got mastitis AGAIN, and I'm really sick this time, so have had to have more antibiotics. I live 250 miles away from my parents, my husband is an orphan, all my friends work full time, and my husband has a demanding job, which he can't really afford to mess with in the current economy, so I'm completely alone in looking after the baby during the week. And I feel absolutely horrible. I can hardly touch the baby I hurt so much. My body aches, I can't get out of bed, and it looks like I might have an abscess in my breast this time. I don't want to give him breast milk with antibiotics after last time, so we are formula feeding most of the day, except first thing in the morning when based on the half life of the antibiotics, they should be reasonably clear from my milk.
I am starting to feel that no matter how good for him breast milk is, this is not in any way good for my relationship with my son. I have to pump so much I can't cuddle him for hours of the day, and I'm either sick or in pain the rest of the time. I'm getting scared of feeding because of this, and I can't afford to keep getting ill like this - when he is more mobile and less sleepy, its clearly bad for his development if I can't play with him. So I suppose I'm looking for some moral support, maybe for someone to notice something i'm doing wrong, or even to be told that its ok to give up now. I have got myself into a mind set where I feel like I'm giving him poison by giving him formula, but I can't see any other options (except maybe to continue to pump for a couple of feeds a day alongside formula so that he continues to get breast milk and my milk doesnt' completely dry up). What should I do?? I feel so sad today.